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Kansas Rep. Pompeo: Shutdown is about substantial entitlement reform

Bill Wilson
Wichita Eagle

The ongoing government shutdown is about more than the Affordable Care Act, 4th District Rep. Mike Pompeo said Monday morning.

It’s about meaningful entitlement reform to save America from financial collapse.

In a wide-ranging interview, the Republican Congressman from Wichita voiced his discomfort with the ongoing shutdown, while dismissing the Oct. 17 debt ceiling deadline as “not a magical date” and proclaiming Republican solidarity against President Obama’s out of control spending.

Pompeo said that the stand Republicans have taken by shutting down the government is about more than the president’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It’s about “substantial entitlement reform” He said that the debt ceiling must be raised, but downplays the Oct. 17 deadline set by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Pompeo said the government has receipts coming in daily, enough to pay interest on the government’s debt while maintaining some debt payments.

So what does a deal with Democrats and Obama look like to Pompeo?

“I don’t know the answer,” he said. “The basic thing for me is long-term spending reform to resist the risk of of American financial collapse 10 years from now.”

Pompeo said only about 17 percent of the government is shut down. He noted that soldiers, military workers and veterans disability and care pension commitments will still be met.

But some key government programs, like the cancer trials at the National Institutes of Health, will be on hold during the shutdown.

“The cancer trials, I watch those stories and it’s heart-breaking,” Pompeo said. “We voted to fund the NIH. The Democrats took a tough vote to vote no, because they want this in all one big basket.

“The thing is, though, there will be someone with cancer 40 years from now, with no insurance sitting home with their family and their children. If we don’t fix our spending issues, we won’t be able to open the National Institutes of Health then. We’ll be spending 107 percent of our receipts on Medicare and Social Security.”

Pompeo acknowledged the political risk facing Republicans as a result of the shutdown, with weekend polling suggesting control of the House of Representatives is now in play for Democrats.

“I don’t know what the risks are,” he said. “I think that if we do our jobs well, I am confident the American people will see that too.”

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